Heading to Paris? Lucky you! Paris is a beautiful and lively city and should be on everyone’s list of places to visit.
While there is so much to see and experience here, these are my favorite activities to take part in while touring this incredible, historic city.
Of course, this is the most obvious of the things to see in Paris, but one of the most essential. Built in 1889 as an entrance to the World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris. When I finally was able to see it up close and in person, I gained a whole new appreciation for the structure. I found it more beautiful than I imagined it to be, with its straight lines, metal trusses, and its beauty in simplicity. Visit the first or second floor, or head to the very top, where you can get an amazing view of the city.
Did you know that the Louvre is the largest museum in the world? The Louvre was first constructed as a fortress in the 12th century and was later turned into the main residence for France’s kings around 1546. Officially declared a museum in 1793, now the Louvre houses 380,000 objects and 35,000 pieces of artwork, including some of the most famous pieces in the world.
While in the Louvre, be sure to see infamous paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci, Napoleon the Third’s apartments, the remnants of the medieval moat that once surrounded the Louvre when it was a fortress (approximately 1200-1500 AD), Islamic art, Greek and Roman antiquities, and so much more. You could spend days in the Louvre and not see it all. TIP: Be sure to know what you want to see before arriving. The information on the Louvre’s map is limited; plus, you don’t want to find out that you missed something you always wanted to see after your visit is over.
This can be easily accomplished after your visit to the Louvre, by walking through the Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries) just outside the museum. Other famous gardens in the city include Champs de Mars (next to the Eiffel Tower), Luxembourg Garden (Le Jardin du Luxembourg), and the Garden of Plants (Jardin des Plantes). Paris is the greenest city in all of Europe, with gardens and parks making up one-quarter of the city.
Have a picnic in one of these gardens or spend a day relaxing. While strolling through Luxembourg Garden, we happened to find live music played by high school students from Pennsylvania! Most of these large parks have play areas for kids, plenty of seating, food for purchase, and of course, beautiful landscaping. A definite treat for tourists!
Paris has some of the most famous and historic cathedrals in the world. The most popular of these churches is Notre-Dame of Paris. Completed in 1345, this historic cathedral is located on a natural island, Île de la Cité, within the Seine River. Notre-Dame is an impressive structure of French Gothic Architecture and is also known for its flying buttresses, 2 bell towers, high ceilings, stained glass, as well as its gargoyles and chimeras. Notre-Dame offers free tours, but you can also tour the building on your own. The cathedral is open every day of the year, usually from 8:00am – 6:45pm (closing at 7:15pm Saturdays and Sundays). If you plan on visiting the crypts or the bell towers, tickets are required.
Many believe that the Seine River is the heart of Paris. As it winds through half of the numbered “arrondissements” or neighborhoods of Paris, it is obviously a central part of everyday life in this city. In 1991, UNESCO added the banks of the Seine River in Paris to its list of World Heritage Sites. Some of Paris’s most famous sites sit next to the Seine as well.
While in Paris, you can cross historic bridges that cross the Seine. Check out Le Pont-Neuf (oldest bridge in Paris), Le Pont Royal (third oldest bridge in Paris), Le Pont de la Concorde (made from stones of the Bastille), and Le Pont Alexandre III (decorated with bronze candelabras). Be sure to take a walk along the banks of the Seine, watch the boats that float by, or take a cruise of your own. You can do a lot of sightseeing in Paris while cruising the Seine.
Paris is synonymous with bakeries. Tourists flock to neighborhood shops to sample croissants, macarons, meringues, eclairs, and more. Pastries are sold at pâtisseries — shops dedicated specifically to sweet baked goods made with dough, as opposed to breads, which are sold at boulangeries; however many times you can find freshly baked breads and pastries at both shops.
Paris is one of the world’s finest cities for breads and pastries. So be sure to immerse yourself in the culture and taste some distinctively delicious Parisian foods while visiting.
Most neighborhoods in Paris have markets a couple of days a week that offer fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and more. Around town, you can find organic food markets, antique dealers, textile markets, gourmet food, and wine. A popular Parisian market is the Marché des Enfants Rouges, which is the oldest covered market in Paris. Click here for more market information.
Throughout the city, you will also find high-end shopping along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Rue Saint-Honoré, and Rue de Rennes. If you’re lucky, you might simply stumble upon a market or fun shop while out sight-seeing. Be sure to enjoy a meal at an outdoor cafe and sit facing the street, so you can enjoy the hustle and bustle of the streets of Paris.
Whether you’re in the mood for bargains, authentic Parisian goods, or high-end fashion, you can find it in Paris.
These activities are just at the top of my list of things to do in beautiful Paris. There is so much culture to explore, new tastes to savor, and moments to cherish. Paris has a lot to offer, so if you have more than a couple of days, be sure to check out the Musee d’Orsay, the Palais Garnier (Opera National de Paris), the Arc de Triomphe, Musée de l’Armée Invalides (holds the tomb of Napoleon), along with a trip to the Palace of Versailles.
What are your favorite things to do while in Paris? Let me know in the comments!